Here We Go Again
It’s been almost twenty months since I tasted homemade gravy, a Yorkshire pudding (Google it and try it!), pulled a cracker or caroled merrily down my hometown high street but reluctantly I would be spending another festive period away from home.
Last year was a great time and helped me feel at home six thousand miles away, but the majority of the festive cheer came around the days preceding Christmas and those afterwards. This year it was completely different, and perhaps with the experience that I have now, the festive season was a lot more enjoyable.
The build-up was kick started with, maybe an ill-judged yet fortuitous, Thanksgiving activity for the school students on a Sunday night. Although not everyone was pleased to be doing this – Americans included – it did result in a clear moment of the festive season starting. And for those who don’t celebrate it, it was like an early Christmas dinner in its own right.
On the First Day of Christmas
From the very first day of Christmas a lot of people made a concerted effort to bring the Christmas cheer, in varying amounts mind you. Some wanted to play all the Christmas hits from the get go, some were crafting decorations, some were giving out chocolates and some were arranging nights out. It seemed like a real team strategy to bring the cheer in to any available part of the school or Fuzhou.
Probably by the tenth of December I had already gained about five kilograms thanks to the amount of treasures my Nan sent me in the post. Chocolates, Christmas puddings, Yorkshire pudding mixture and all manner of jams and jellies came my way. Not to mention all of the confectionary that the teachers were buying and distributing themselves.
There is also a lovely supermarket called Metro that stocks a good variety of western foods especially for our presence. In the process of two weeks I had spent about a fifth of my salary on cheese and booze. I’ve never bought a four kilogram block of Kerry Gold Cheddar before but it has made this Christmas feel a lot more like home.
The 22nd of Christmas
The Christmas activity was a down point, because no one wants to work a twelve hour day, but the second that bell rang out for the three day weekend – effectively signaling the start of the Christmas weekend – it was party a-go-go! Dressed in Santa hats, caroling on our way to a club, receiving free drinks and taxi fares all collated in to one great night. Throw in a few house parties and a birthday and everyone was definitely feeling the Christmas spirit.
The Day Itself
The Day itself finally arrived and it continued where the past few nights had left off. Crammed in to a one bed apartment, complete with cardboard Christmas Tree – made by myself I might add – fifteen people and a bucket load of songs, rum and crackers sung in the day with joy. Dancing our way to the Shangri La hotel for some five star tuck we enjoyed ourselves all throughout the night until Boxing day came calling. A mixture of forethought and planning had paid off and Christmas was in full belly aching laughter. I think even for those Grinch’s out there it would be hard to say that they didn’t have a good few weeks of frivolous, frolicking fun!